Woolrich Factory Tour (MAOF 2017)

As part of the 2017 Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival this year the Henwoods organized a tour of the Woolrich Woolen Mill in nearby Woolrich, PA.

Arriving at the Woolrich Woolen Mill
It’s like living in an “How It’s Made” episode.

This was by far the highlight of the trip since it combined a little overland adventure through the local state forest, a short hike in the Alan Seeger Natural Area, and a factory tour.  All things I love.  Read on for a series of photos from the tour…

The group gathering outside waiting on last minute stragglers.

Once inside we gathered for a short introduction with our guide (blue polo shirt in above photo).  From there he ushered us up two flights to their samples rooms.

The samples room featuring some relics from Woolrich’s past, present, and future.
Samples of their various wool threads

A few pieces of art adorned the walls

Samples of wool fabric
One of the many relics of Woolrich’s past.

After our time in the samples room was over we headed back into the factory to follow the actual production process from raw wool just off the sheep to finished textile ready for shipment.

Bails of raw wool.
Explaining the weighing process from packed bail to the blending process.
In every nook and cranny of the mill were these old wooden carts.
Sadly none for sale right now.

A look back at one of the mill shop floors.

I often get distracted by what’s *NOT* on the tour.
Like this room of spare parts…

… and this shelf of gears.
Each gear corresponds to a threat weave count.
Beginnings of the threading process.

Would have been a fun machine to see in operation.

One of our guides showing how white, black, and grey wool are blended together into the threads.

Empty bobbins waiting for thread.

Fresh wool thread ready to be dyed.

The thread room.  Just crates and crates of threads of all sizes and colors.

Miles of thread… and that’s just in this box.

Another relic of the Woolrich past that still sees use today.

Beginning of the textile process.

These machines don’t fix themselves.

Part of the inspection process after weaving.

Thread samples for comparison during inspection and quality control.
Also used for repairing snags and broken threads.

Final inspection before shipping.

For me overland adventures aren’t just about spending time in the wilderness.  My overland adventures are a way to experience history and culture.  The integration of the natural with the man-made has always fascinated me.  Whether it’s a large bridge or damn thrust into the natural world or something like this were a natural product is turned into a finished man-made product I am captivated by the process.  That said, I still enjoy things like the hike earlier in the Alan Seeger Natural Area.  The natural realm is still a vital role for any overland adventure, but that doesn’t mean afternoons like this aren’t fun in their own way.

Click here to return back to the Mid-Atlantic Overland Festival event report.